Myths and Realities of Frequent Flyer Programs
Frequent flyer programs are a bit of a mystery. People know that they can earn miles and trade miles for cash or book affordable domestic and international flights, but they can’t always wrap their minds around how beneficial enrolling in a program can be. Or they wonder how the airline can stay in business if they give away free seats.
To help educate new and veteran travelers alike, we are happy to explain the myths and realities of these airline programs.
Some Common Myths About Airline Programs
Myth 1 : Most people redeem their frequent flyer miles for awards.
Frequent flyers know that earning and buying air miles is a great way to get flights with seats in first and business class without breaking the bank. In many cases, earning miles is as easy as buying goods and services on your credit card or by simply staying at a hotel. So, it would be logical to assume that since earning miles is so convenient that people would be using them for free flights and affordable long-distance travel.
The reality is that trillions of air miles are left unused for various reasons including customers forgetting about them and others thinking that the miles will never amount to anything.
A few years ago, it was revealed that 11 airlines ended the year with 49 million award trips that were not used by people with air miles. That is close to $3.5 billion that the airlines saved because people decided not to use their air miles.
It is really a good thing because if the airlines thought that they were giving away too many affordable airlines, they might shut down the reward programs. Instead, those who are smart about earning and selling air miles can get endless rewards.
Myth 2:The airlines are apathetic about their air mile programs and would discontinue them if other airlines did.
Many people might think that airlines would be crazy to give away free travel and affordable seats in first-class through reward programs, but in reality, having the reward programs actually help the airlines.
In many cases, travelers do not have enough miles to cover the whole price of the ticket, so they have to buy the rest. If most travelers follow this trend, then the airline is still making money. Those of us who are smart enough to take full advantage of air miles can travel without breaking the bank and can do so as long as air mile programs exist.
Myth 3: Frequent flyer programs are just loyalty programs tricking customers into buying airline tickets.
Even though we just mentioned that frequent flyer programs make money off of casual travelers, the programs also help the airlines make money through their partners. Smart travelers who make it their job to earn air miles know that they can get them through hotels, car rentals, finance companies, various retailers, and more. There is almost an unlimited amount of ways to earn airline miles.
However, in order for these companies to give you the miles, they have to purchase them from the airline, and when the airline makes more money, they will happily continue their frequent flyer programs.
In the end, knowing how to separate these myths and realities is a good way to take advantage of great programs.